I’m just learning that the Wisconsin Senate just passed a bill to strip pubic employees of collective bargaining rights. They did this by separating the union busting provision from the larger budget bill and making it a separate law. Apparently under Senate rules they didn’t need the quorum to pass it.
However, a Dem Wisconsin senator-in-exile is saying the maneuver violates Wisconsin “open meetings” laws that requires a certain amount of prior notice to such a vote. The senators-in-exile might go back to Wisconsin now, but their first priority is to explore legal remedies for overturning tonight’s Senate vote.
Meanwhile, Lee Fang at Think Progress says that state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald admitted on Fox News that the whole point of the rights-stripping is to cripple the unions and make it easier for Republicans to get elected in Wisconsin.
FITZGERALD: Well if they flip the state senate, which is obviously their goal with eight recalls going on right now, they can take control of the labor unions. If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what youâ€™re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin.
Update: See TPM for details.
Update: Howard Fineman on MSNBC say that today’s maneuver was ordered by the national leaders of the Republican Party in hopes that the students and union members in Madison (a college town) will hit the streets and overreact. They want violent demonstrations they can show to people nationwide so they can paint President Obama and Democrats generally as some kind of 1960s radicals.